The hunt for a job can be tough. Whether you’ve recently graduated and are looking for your first post-grad job or are in the middle of a seeking semester in your Co-op program, it’s easy to become discouraged when applications go out and responses don’t come in.
1. You’re Overly Selective
A lot of people think they should only apply for jobs that perfectly line up with their career plans, but don’t rule out a job just because it isn’t where you pictured working. There’s no harm in applying, even if you’re offered the job you can always turn it down, but you might learn something surprising in the interview that could change your mind. Be open-minded here, you could very well be rewarded.
2. You’re Psyching Yourself Out Before You Apply
Some people think they can’t apply for any job they don’t meet 100% of the qualifications for, but this isn’t necessarily true. There are many aspects to every job, and employers know they might not find someone with the necessary experience in every little facet. Most organizations will be willing to train the right candidate, especially when hiring Co-op students. If you think you meet, or come close to meeting the most important requirements, go ahead and apply, you could surprise yourself.
3. You’re Underestimating Your Abilities
When you’re just starting your career it’s easy to feel like you’re not qualified for anything. Plenty of students don’t realize they can utilize the skills and experience gained at customer service jobs, volunteer positions, or school projects. This is doubly true when it comes to Co-op jobs, employers know all of the applicants are at the start of their career, they aren’t expecting years of relevant experience. What you need to do instead is highlight your transferable skills. You’ve been building soft skills for years, now’s the time to showcase them.
4. You Aren’t Tailoring Your Application
“Make sure to research the organization before writing the cover letter, so as to allow you to be able to really tailor it.” - Communication Co-op Coordinator, Marcia Shimizu
As tempting as it may be, you can’t just draft one amazing resume and cover letter, and then find and replace the company name for every application. First of all, you will eventually miss something and send the wrong letter to the wrong company. Secondly, no matter how well written it is, most hiring managers can smell a copy and paste job a mile away.
Even in the same field, different jobs have different requirements, and you need to emphasize different skills if you want to really shine. While you can probably have two or three go-to options for resumes, you need to draft a new cover letter every time. Research the company before you start writing. Find out about the company culture, what they do, and recent news. This information will help you target the content and tone of your letter. You may even uncover a link you have to the company that you weren’t aware of before.
5. You Aren’t Utilizing Your Network
Networking can seem obnoxious, and a lot of people struggle with it, but it’s important, and doesn’t need to feel painfully awkward. You don’t need to attend boring cocktails hours either. Look at the networks you already have: Your softball team, a former classmate, clubs you’ve joined on campus. You’ll likely find someone who, even if they can’t help, can connect you with someone who can. If that doesn’t extend your network far enough get online. Reach out to interesting people you’ve engaged with on Twitter, or hit LinkedIn and start searching for second degree connections. No matter how you do it, you need to get your name out there, and spread the word about what you’re capable of.
6. Your Editing Skills Need Work
Yes, most hiring managers will spend less than 30 seconds looking through your resume, but that doesn’t mean you can let the details fall through the cracks. Spelling and grammar checks are helpful, but they’ll never catch everything. First, read through the whole thing to make sure everything makes sense, flows well, and isn’t too repetitive. Next, go through the whole thing line by line. Ensure that every bullet point is grammatically correct, everything is spelled correctly, and that every word is the one you meant to use (autocorrect is a lot less cute on a resume).
7. You Aren’t Preparing Properly for Interviews
“Make doubly sure that you research the organization before the interview as you can pretty much guarantee one of the interview questions will test your knowledge ("Tell me what you know about us", "What did you do to prepare for this interview?", "Why did you apply for this job?")” – Marcia Shimizu
By now you should have already researched your company, but if you’re called in for an interview you need to review your research and dig deeper. Check for any recent news and look into their products or services and mission statement. Think of a few questions you can ask, they should cover things you care about and show that you’ve done your research.
If you can, search LinkedIn for current or past employees, see what kind of experience they have, and if you have any shared interests or connection. This applies double if you’re able to find your interviewer. However you research, make sure you feel prepared and knowledgeable going in.
Work on these five details and you should find yourself having much better luck getting those elusive interview call backs. Good luck!
Beyond the Blog
Spruce up your applications with our resume and cover letter pages.
Read up on and prepare for any type of interview you could face.
Read about the challenges Natalie faced in her first Co-op seeking semester.